Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Horowitz Transcriptions - A Recurring (and Seemingly Unanswerable)) Question...

I occasionally go over the recordings of the eleven piano transcriptions available to me, more often than not as a reminder of the  neurotic drive that catapulted an already legendary physicality into existence. I wonder, sometimes, whether the same level of excitement that Horowitz created in his audiences will again appear?
A more compelling question also forms before me as I listen, and that is:
Why were these pieces not written out as they came into our world?
Which leads to another issue of import; namely some controversy as to whether he indeed did make some form of effort to commit them to paper. There is more than one article pertaining to the existence of at least a portion, in written form, of his early transcription on the themes from "Carmen."
There is more than one musicologist out there who has  expressed confidence that this manuscript written by Horowitz indeed exists. I do not know of any proof that it has ever been seen.
You can look at one of my blogs dealing, by way of a letter exchange,  with the transcriptions. I received an answer from the virtuoso, which surprised(and pleased) me, as I knew that he normally  did not deal with any musical issue by letter-exchange.
His letter pretty much convinced me that he had never written any of his transcriptions down.
But I can find  no pure proof of that.
A conversation in the Horowitz household between Horowitz and Dubal of Juillard indicates to me that they went, unwritten, to the grave with Horowitz in 1989.
 The reputation that David Dubal possesses leads me to the probability that my personal opinion remains unchanged, as I consider the conversation not to be apocryphal:
Horowitz had been discussing with Dubal the history and the issues dealing with the transcription form, especially those emanating from Liszt and post-Liszt. Horowitz himself was a brilliant improviser and often just sat and improvised for hours. Some of the legendary designs in his transcriptions certainly attest to his love for and  powers of  extemporization.
Horowitz declared, within the context of this subject that " I have  never had the time to write my transcriptions down!"
The great pianist's wife Wanda immediately interjected " he was too lazy to write them down!"
And so, the question, for me, still looms.
Was it also possible that Horowitz did not have the writing technique to commit the  hordes  of notes
onto manuscript form? Was it also possible that he thought that they should not be written down simply because he thought that no one would be able to play them anyway?
What if Horowitz were to return just one day to hear some teenagers playing his "Stars and Stripes Forever" transcription with ease? Pedagogical technology has given us many pianists who can do just that today - and, yes - all of the Horowitz transcriptions are now available on manuscript.
So, do go out and buy some, and give  them  a try...

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